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459th Airlift Squadron

459th Airlift Squadron
The first 459 AS C-12J arriving at Yokota Air Base, 29 June 2007
  • 1 July 1942 – 21 December 1945
  • 12 October 1966 – 1 June 1970
  • 1 April 1975 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Airlift
Part of
Garrison/HQ Yokota Air Base
459th Airlift Squadron emblem 125px

The 459th Airlift Squadron (459 AS) is part of the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base, Japan. It operates the UH-1 Iroquois and the C-12J Huron aircraft, providing aeromedical evacuation and search and rescue missions.


File:459th Bombardment Squadron - Emblem.png
Emblem of the 459th Bombardment Squadron

The 459th was originally established in mid-1942 as the 459th Bombardment Squadron under II Bomber Command as a B-17 Flying Fortress Replacement Training Unit (RTU). They operated until March 1944 with the end of Heavy Bomber training.

B-29 Superfortress operations against Japan

The 459th Bombardment Squadron was re-designated as a B-29 Superfortress Very Heavy bombardment squadron on 1 April 1944. After completion of training in January 1945, they moved to North Field, Guam, in the Mariana Islands of the Central Pacific Area, and were assigned to XXI Bomber Command, Twentieth Air Force. The squadron's mission was the strategic bombardment of the Japanese home islands and the destruction of its war-making capability.

The Squadron Flew "shakedown" missions against Japanese targets on Moen Island, Truk, and other points in the Carolines and Marianas. The squadron began missions over Japan on 25 February 1945 with a firebombing mission over northeast Tokyo. The squadron continued to participate in wide-area firebombing attacks, but when the Army Air Forces ran out of incendiary bombs after ten days, the squadron flew conventional strategic bombing missions using high explosive bombs.

The squadron continued attacking urban areas with incendiary raids until the end of the war in August 1945, attacking major Japanese cities and causing massive destruction of urbanized areas. They also conducted raids against strategic objectives such as aircraft factories, chemical plants, oil refineries, and other targets in Japan. The squadron flew its last combat missions on 14 August when hostilities ended. Afterwards, the squadron's B 29s carried relief supplies to Allied prisoner of war camps in Japan and Manchuria.

The squadron remained in the western Pacific, although largely demobilized in the fall of 1945. Some of the squadron's aircraft were scrapped on Tinian; others were flown to storage depots in the United States. The squadron was inactive from the end of 1945 until 1949.

United States Air Force

It was reactivated as a reserve B-29 squadron at March Joint Air Reserve Base, California, in 1949. Squadron personnel were activated on 1 May 1951 for service in the Korean War service and reassigned to active duty units, which were deployed to the Far East Air Forces. The unit was inactivated in June 1951 and briefly reactivated as a C-46 Commando Troop Carrier Squadron in June–July 1952.

During the Vietnam War the squadron was reactivated at Cam Ranh Air Base, South Vietnam, in 1966. It provided intra-theatre airlift services in Vietnam, including air-land and airdrop assault missions from 1966 to 1970. The unit was inactivated as part of the drawdown of United States forces.

The squadron conducted airlifts of key Department of Defense personnel from April 1975 to March 1978, aeromedical airlifts from March 1978 to November 1991, and operational support airlifts since December 1991.

Operations and decorations

  • Combat Operations: Combat in Western Pacific, c. 12 April – 14 August 1945. Intra-theatre airlift in Southeast Asia, January 1967 – May 1970
  • Campaigns: World War II: Air Offensive, Japan; Western Pacific. Vietnam: Vietnam Air Offensive; Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II; Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase III; Vietnam Air/Ground; Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase IV; TET 69/Counteroffensive; Vietnam Summer-Fall,1969; Vietnam Winter-Spring, 1970; Sanctuary Counteroffensive
  • Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citations: Japan, 10 May 1945; Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan, 23–29 May 1945. Presidential Unit Citations (Southeast Asia) 21 January – 12 May 1968; 1 April – 30 June 1970; Navy Presidential Unit Citation: Vietnam, 20 January – 1 April 1968; Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat “V” Device 1 January – 30 April 1967; 1 May 1967 – 30 April 1968; 1 July 1970 – 31 December 1971. Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm: 1 January 1967 – 30 April 1972


459th Airlift Squadron

  • Constituted as the 459 Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 1 July 1942
Activated on 6 July 1942
Inactivated on 1 April 1944
  • Redesignated 459 Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy and activated on 1 April 1944
Inactivated on 21 December 1945
  • Redesignated 459 Troop Carrier Squadron, Medium on 26 May 1952
Activated in the reserve on 14 June 1952
Inactivated on 14 July 1952
  • Redesignated 459 Troop Carrier Squadron and activated, on 12 October 1966 (not organized)
Organized on 1 January 1967
Redesignated 459 Tactical Airlift Squadron on 1 August 1967
Inactivated on 1 June 1970
  • Consolidated with the 1400 Military Airlift Squadron on 1 December 1991 as the 459th Airlift Squadron
Inactivated on 1 October 1993
Activated on 1 October 1993

1400th Military Airlift Squadron

  • Designated as the 1400 Military Airlift Squadron and activated on 1 April 1975
  • Consolidated with the 459th Tactical Airlift Squadron on 1 December 1991 as the 459th Airlift Squadron




See also

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12px This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links